ONE of Africa’s oldest political parties –Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Party of the Revolution) CCM marked its 41st anniversary of its founding Monday this week.
It is Tanzania’s ruling party, which is actually a union of two political parties, one from mainland Tanzania, hitherto TANU and another from Zanzibar Islands then known as the ASP. But incidentally, one of the founding members of this party and a close aide of the founding leader and father of the Tanzanian nation, the late Mwalimu Nyerere, Comrade Kingunge Ngombale Mwiru was laid to rest same day, Monday in Dar es Salaam after passing away.
Like the founding leader of this party, Mwalimu Nyerere, Ndugu Kingunge had played a recognizable role in the quest for independence of this country, which explains the huge turn out of mourners at his funeral this week. But what is most instructive is the creativity and vision of the founder leader of this nation Mwalimu Nyerere for his choice of CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) or Party of the Revolution as a party for both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Clearly visionary, Mwalimu Nyerere knew that the aspirations of the people of Zanzibar would be embraced if the party was named ‘Party of the Revolution’ (Chama cha Mapinduzi) since there was a new revolutionary government in Zanzibar following the revolution that got rid of an Arab sultanate. He also had a vision to transform his old party, Tanganyika African National Union–TANUthat had fought for political independence on mainland Tanzania as a socialist revolutionary party.
So ‘Chama cha Mapinduzi’ (CCM) was born to reign in both parts of the United Republic of Tanzania. Always a thinker and a visionary, Mwalimu Nyerere decided to move the country from a one party to a multi party state after about 30 years of nationhood. So after the second phase presidency of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, this country became a multiparty state–plunging into competitive multiparty which has continued to this day.
So how has this party, CCM faired in competitive politics ever since? Is this party oblivious of the concrete situation on the ground in competitive politics? Is this party pursuing any ideology normally attributed to political parties everywhere? Has the Opposition in place any ideology at all? Therefore, the starting point of this perspective is: What is the focus of all the political parties in place in the context of the social-economic landscape of the country in terms of the widening gap between the few filthily rich and the staggering poor majority? Which party takes the plight of the poor of this country seriously as a permanent agenda?
Let us start with the ruling party, CCM. This party was founded on a firm ideology-namely Socialism and Self-reliance. It was also imbued with this motto from the word go: “the independence of this country is incomplete without the total liberation of Africa”. It has, therefore, a rich history in its contribution to the liberation struggle in Africa against minority rule and apartheid. The free states in Southern Africa today must have the name of this party, CCM, in their roll call of honor. But Tanzanians also, especially those of the old generation see in this party, CCM, a country in safe hands.
But does this party read correctly the concrete situation on the ground today? Even after its government was pressurized to subscribe to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) privatization agenda during the 2nd Mwinyi Administration in 1985, has the party, CCM, remained faithful to its actual owners, the peasants and workers of this country? When we watched the ruling party and the opposition in the run-up to General Elections last fall, we saw that both were crowd pullers and the quantitative difference in the crowds they pull were arguable.
But those Tanzanians reading these lines may have noted that the crowds that converged to opposition rallies before the victory of the Magufuli CCM candidature were mainly of youths mostly under 30 years old and the majority had been the youngest. What is it that youths of this country were attracted to the Opposition in the last elections? I suspect it must be one of the party’s confrontational stances: such as ‘mpaka kieleweke’ (a warlike slogan to come to the root of a given matter!]
This slogan looks attractive especially to young people! But I, for one, have heard nothing substantive on alternative socialeconomic programs, such as food, clothing and shelter for all crowned by education and free health facilities. Some parties in the opposition seem to have been busy exposing what has been described as “ufisadi”, alleged thievery by those in public office then!
And this was about all! What amused me was that whereas the leadership of one of these opposition political parties prefer to don fatigues– the same attire the late Fidel Castro or Che Guevara would be comfortable, this party chose to use helicopters to visit poor people in the countryside! But the village people this party wants to impress would hardly afford owning bicycles! But then what is the concrete situation on the ground in this country today in the intervening period?
There had been intermittent battles between peasants and herdsmen. Newspaper headlines had abounded of deaths somewhere in the country. For the first time since independence, herdsmen and peasants in the countryside had deployed bows and arrows against each other. Razing of dwellings of our people in the rural areas had been in the headlines in the intervening period.
It was difficult, for those who watched the scenario on TV news to fight back tears when the saw women and children wailing after their huts were torched allegedly by an incensed “investor” reacting to ‘trespassers’ of his “land”.
Good Lord! As I am writing, and if you are a parent, you must be wondering what to do with your sons and daughters who have completed schooling and even some training but are rotting at the house with no where to go or no hope at all to win jobs! You may agree this situation is the consequence of the privatization agenda we swallowed hook, bait and sinker thrown to us by western powers via the IMF two decades ago. Full-fledged capitalism is both inhumane and beastly –as we must have realized by now. You cannot oblige private firms to employ people nor oblige them to handle workers in a humane way.
You are hired by word of mouth and fired accordingly by word of mouth. This is capitalism! And we have massive unemployment in this country. The only activity that seems to save the situation from getting worse is motorcycle-taxing business (bodaboda). The method of tilling land neither has not changed either; it is still the hoe, hardly a tractor! And urban areas are full of young people, some of whom we see hawking this and that, making us wonder whether they are really able to eke a single decent meal a day.
At this point, we have sampled the concrete situation on the ground in this country today. What follows now is to offer some pieces of advise to the ruling party-CCM– which Party most of us feel safe in its hands-as we have survived reasonably well over the last 41 years under its leadership. My well considered advise is: the ruling party, CCM, should revert to its original social-economic agenda of concern for the majority poor of this country: the revival of Socialism and Self-reliance. The Party should strive to bridge the gap between the filthily rich of this country and the majority poor.
This process should be performed via job creation by its government: firstly by mechanizing agriculture– to liberate the majority peasant population from the hand hoe. Most importantly, the ruling party should embark on continuous analysis of the social economic situation of the country and be the first to realize what is happening and provide solutions, as was the case during when this party was founded. These party sittings should regular. Thus far, in his twoyear rule, President Magufuli now formally Chairman of the ruling Party has performed exemplary.
Who will ever forget his move to stop a lootocracy of our natural resources that were being loaded out of the country in shiploads? He has brought a halt the looting public funds by some public officials and other level of cheating such as paying up non-existing public officials in state agencies. He has been frugal, and most importantly he has himself taken the lead in shying away from foreign trips which some of his predecessors had been enthusiastic to embark on distant invitation! He has made commendable speeches which deserve special publications for internal and external circulation, the most striking and visionary being–HAPA KAZI TU–which could translate- ‘Wanted here: Hard Work”.
This and many other inspirational slogans and speeches could be worked out in booklets as educational material. On this score, the Chinese leaders are a paradigm, as besides me I have two books by Chinese President Xi Jinping–‘Up and Out of Poverty’ and ‘The Governance of China’.